Apricot special format

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roadrash
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Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Tue May 07, 2019 6:46 pm

I have a Apricot PC that I restored a couple of years ago and when I restored it I had lots of problems with getting the floppy disks to boot. In the end I managed to get a second hand drive that red and booted a disk but then it eventually stopped booting after I had tried to read a old original Apricot disk from an F1 model to see if there was anything on it. I have not been able to find out why it stopped booting any more disks after that and tried cleaning heads lubricating it and checking everything. It would try to boot then eventually fail. Anyway I want to now fit up a Gotek floppy emulator until I can hopefully find out whats wrong with all these drives because now they all 4 of them have the same fault. I know these Apricot disks have a format very similar to the IBM 720k 3.5" floppies but they have slightly different RPM and only 70 tracks.
I have to submit a special firmware request to suit this Apricot format of disk and want to check before I do it that I have it all correct.

The specs I know about the Apricots floppies format is that they are Shugart, 70 tracks, 9 sectors, 512 bytes sector size, 600rpm, 500kb bit rate and single sided (one head).

manm thanks

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Tue May 07, 2019 8:08 pm

roadrash wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 6:46 pm
I have a Apricot PC that I restored a couple of years ago and when I restored it I had lots of problems with getting the floppy disks to boot. In the end I managed to get a second hand drive that red and booted a disk but then it eventually stopped booting after I had tried to read a old original Apricot disk from an F1 model to see if there was anything on it. I have not been able to find out why it stopped booting any more disks after that and tried cleaning heads lubricating it and checking everything. It would try to boot then eventually fail. Anyway I want to now fit up a Gotek floppy emulator until I can hopefully find out whats wrong with all these drives because now they all 4 of them have the same fault. I know these Apricot disks have a format very similar to the IBM 720k 3.5" floppies but they have slightly different RPM and only 70 tracks.
I have to submit a special firmware request to suit this Apricot format of disk and want to check before I do it that I have it all correct.

The specs I know about the Apricots floppies format is that they are Shugart, 70 tracks, 9 sectors, 512 bytes sector size, 600rpm, 500kb bit rate and single sided (one head).

manm thanks
Have you some files image ?

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Wed May 08, 2019 12:52 pm

Thanks for the response Jeff,

I have some "Apricot PC" floppy images I downloaded from the web if thats what you mean. I know thay all work because when I got one of my Apriocots drives working I tested them all in it and all were readable and bootable. The Dos application "Apridik" will write these images to a floppy formatted as 80 track 720k. I have a "Apricot F1" machine I was trying to restore at the time and it was a floppy that came from that machine that I tried in my Apricot PC and caused it to stop booting from its floppy drive ever since. Whether it was just coincidence I dont know but If I can get the Gotek to boot one of the floppy images I know work, I will then know the Apricot itself is still OK and the problem is with these originbal Sony single sided drives.
The Apricot PC's Sony full height 3.5" single sided drives were the first use of the then new 3.5" disk size. The other Apricot F1 machine I also have was the next model of Apricot after the PC and used a double sided version of the same drive which I also have and also does not read a floppy. Seems these sony drivs all have a weakness somewhere because they all eventualy give up booting the operating system from floppy. It does seem like they all have a problem reading the boot track. If I can get into the operating system using a gotek I will then be able to test all the drives to see if they arereading the disks and coul;d run one of the floppy test & diagnostic programs available on these Apricot floppy images & disks I have. This hopfully will prove if these Sony drives are having problems with just the boot track or the whole of the disks. I would be most gratefull if you could help me to get this gotek booting a system disk as it will helps tremendously in sorting this problem out.

Ive attached a couple of photos of the drive with the pcb removed and the repair manual for these drives. I made myself a custom 34 to 26 pin cable and when I powered up the Apricot with the gotek with one of the .DSK floppy images, I noticed after the initial boot dianostic check the Apricot does and then look to boot a floppy, the drive activity light on the Gotek started fashing green which makes me think the Apricot is trying to read a disk if it could so maybe it is a drive problem and not the PC itself. Is this right? Ive uploaded the Sony floppy drive repair manual if you are interested and you can get it at this link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UTqmIg ... sp=sharing

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Wed May 08, 2019 1:05 pm

roadrash wrote:
Wed May 08, 2019 12:52 pm
Thanks for the response Jeff,

I have some "Apricot PC" floppy images I downloaded from the web if thats what you mean.
yes. can you post a link here ?

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Wed May 08, 2019 7:46 pm


roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Thu May 09, 2019 11:55 am

I am going to connect up one of the Apricots Sony dtives to a old PC AT using the adaptor cable i made because these drives should work on a PC if the A: or B: drive is set to 720k in the bios. At least then i can test them formatting, reading/writing under MSDOS. I can also write a boot floppy to make sure its reading the boot track on the PC and booting into MSDOS. Hope that link to the Apricot disk inages was useful.

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Thu May 09, 2019 8:02 pm

roadrash wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 11:55 am
I am going to connect up one of the Apricots Sony dtives to a old PC AT using the adaptor cable i made because these drives should work on a PC if the A: or B: drive is set to 720k in the bios. At least then i can test them formatting, reading/writing under MSDOS. I can also write a boot floppy to make sure its reading the boot track on the PC and booting into MSDOS. Hope that link to the Apricot disk inages was useful.
Ok. These Apricot disk images are not raw files images ! So you can't load them directly on the Gotek.
But the good news is that this specific file image format is supported by the HxC software :
So start the software, drag&drop the dsk on the main window and then export to hfe the loaded image.
You can then use the HFE on the Gotek. Nothing more is needed.

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Fri May 10, 2019 11:58 am

So does that mean i dont have to flash the gotek with hxc firmware? By the way the Apricot drives would do a disk sweep on the pc at startup but didnt work properly and wouldn't tead any disk

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Fri May 10, 2019 12:14 pm

roadrash wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 11:58 am
So does that mean i dont have to flash the gotek with hxc firmware?
And of course you need to have the hxc firmware...

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Fri May 10, 2019 12:58 pm

So what Hxc firmware do I need because the Apricot uses single sided drives at 600rpm and just 70 tracks, 9 sectors @ 512kb.
Is there a standard firmware that will cover this like 720k ibm or do i need to get a custom one?

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Fri May 10, 2019 2:15 pm

roadrash wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 12:58 pm
So what Hxc firmware do I need because the Apricot uses single sided drives at 600rpm and just 70 tracks, 9 sectors @ 512kb.
Is there a standard firmware that will cover this like 720k ibm or do i need to get a custom one?
The normal/standard one.
When you use the hfe format all settings are embedded in the file.

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Fri May 10, 2019 6:36 pm

I got the hxc softwarevflashed into the gotek and put the firmware.upd file on a fat32 formatted usb key and one hxe floppy imagr of Apricot disk. I connectrd the gotek up to the Apricot andnturned i on. The display on the getek just says norm. The apricot just reports a disk error. I didn't get a "Ldr" message the readme file said i would. If I power up the apricot and gotek without a usb key it shows HXc on its display which i think means the Hxc software is working but did the fiirmware also load in?

Jeff
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Re: Apricot special format

Post by Jeff » Fri May 10, 2019 10:15 pm

yes this sound fine.

Now copy the converted hfe file and rename it DSKA0000.HFE and copy an indexed config file.

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Sat May 11, 2019 2:01 pm

I loaded the Hxc emulator software and went to settings menu and selected choose "USB HXC FlOPPY EMULATOR SETTINGS" then loaded the file I wanted to export then clicked "Export" and it converted it to a _dsk.hfe file and saved it. but where do I find the config file you mention?

roadrash
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 8:19 pm

Re: Apricot special format

Post by roadrash » Sat May 11, 2019 3:07 pm

Its ok its under the SD HXC emulator settings which I thought mine wasn't as it uses a Usb pen.

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